Gadespring has naturalised during the inactivity of the Watercress farm, & while Watercress still grows there, scrub & reeds have taken advantage & thrived. Now the environment mainly consists of wet woodland & reedbed with marshy areas, ponds, & a scrape that is often submerged by shallow water. The River Bulbourne, which flows through West to East, is a chalk stream, a typical feature of the Chilterns & an important habitat in its own right. The original concrete side channels still carry crystal clear water along the North & South edges of the old beds but despite this the water level is very inconsistent, rising dramatically with periods of wet weather as the river & connected canal swell, & all but drying out during warmer, dry conditions. To help maintain the water level as much as possible water is pumped up from artisan wells on site & into the beds, & there are also plans to alter the original inlet from the river to help with this too.
|Reedmace (Typha latifolda) at the West end of Gadespring Cress Beds, looking North towards Chaulden Meadow.|
Gadespring already holds a wide variety of wildlife, including the only known colony of Bloody-nosed Beetles (Timarcha tenebricosa) in Hertfordshire, a large beetle that exudes red 'blood' from its mouth when threatened to ward off predators. It is one of the very few sites in Hertfordshire where Water Voles are present after their huge nationwide decline, but it is also used by American Mink, their nemesis! Insects such as Dragonflies & Damselflies can be seen in abundance at Gadespring, & it is an important area for 'riverflies', in particular Cinnamon Sedge Caddisflies (Limnephilus lunatus). The crystal clear channels hold whole shoals of Three-spined Sticklebacks, while Common Frogs, Common Toads & Smooth Newts can be found all over the area. Both water & woodland birds can be seen at Gadespring, of the former, Kingfishers, Grey Herons & Grey Wagtails being resident in particular, with a Little Egret visiting regularly, & of the latter, Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Goldcrests, & many Tits & Finches being seen all year round.
It is important to note that Gadespring is still being developed & due to health & safety will only be available for access, other than to wildlife monitors & work parties, at organised events & at times when there is a weekend volunteer warden on duty. General public access is a possibility for the future & this could only happen once the wildlife hide is relocated after planning permission. Keep an eye on this website & blog, as well as the Box Moor Trust website, for details of open days & organised public events when you can visit & explore Gadespring.
Public viewing of Gadespring & its wildlife is possible from Chaulden Meadow looking South across the River Bulbourne, the East section of the meadow looking into the small area of wet woodland, & the West section looking across the reedbed, but you can also see parts of the site from the canal towpath looking North.
This map shows the general area, including where best to view Gadespring, where to park, & where the entrance is for open days & organised public events...